The pilgrims trail.
Trip Start Sep 12, 2006
100Trip End Sep 08, 2008
Czestochowa is one of the most famous places in Poland, drawing in some of the largest pilgrimages in the world. It is the home of the 'Black Madonna', a painting of the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child, painted sometime between the 6th and 14th centuries. It is not known where it was painted, but it was brought to Poland in 1382 and has spent most of the time since then housed in the imposing Monastery of Jasna Gora. Pilgrims have been visiting this sacred spot for centuries.
Missing the bus from Opole, Kay, Benita (another teacher) and I had to catch two slow trains to get to Czestochowa
After a huge salad for lunch we made our way up to the monastery. It was pretty impressive, with the complex surrounded by a huge brick wall, and the tallest church tower in the country casting shadows over the huge grounds where the late Pope John Paul II often gave sermons. It wasn't too difficult to find the 'Chapel of the Miraculous Picture' as there were people everywhere. A continual mass was in progress, but I managed to weave my way in between some people to get a look at the famous painting. It was true, the Virgin Mother really was black here. Also visible was a huge scar across her left cheek, a reminder of the vandalism caused by Hussite invaders in 1430.
We spent about an hour at the monastery, visiting a few galleries including one which held a copy of the Black Madonna so we could get a closer look. It would have been nice to have spent a little longer there, taking things at a more leisurely pace, but not wanting to wait for three hours for a train we decided to get the 3.50pm bus back to Opole. It was a day well spent, and I figured I'd probably be back in the region before too long, as I wanted to visit the ruins of some ancient castles situated on nearby hills.